I tried watching Chihayafuru last year and dropped the series at around the fifth episode. Yesterday and today, I marathoned the first season. In this post I’ll talk about the reasons I dropped the show the first time around, and why I continued this time. I’ll also just ramble about the series, which really is a great watch.
I dropped the show last year because I didn’t like the romantic focus of the show. Yes, I get it, there are a lot of karuta matches, but it’s irritating watching Chihaya reminisce about the Chihaya-Arata-Taichi team every other episode or her wanting to contact Arata after her every tournament win.
Also, I find the love triangle irritating because Chihaya’s crush Arata is barely even a part of the first season. Instead, there’s Taichi, who harbors a one-sided crush on Chihaya. It’s pretty clear that many- if not most- fans will root for Taichi, because he at least shows up in the series.
The romance plot also distracts from the actual karuta matches. I mean, now I’m more curious about who Chihaya is going to end up with than if she actually becomes queen.
So why did I keep watching?
I just tried ignoring the romance this time (
aka tried to convince myself that Chihaya would end up with Taichi). Because the actual karuta matches are pretty interesting. The show did a great job making the competition seem exciting even when it probably isn’t in real life (I mean, it kind of sounds lame to describe karuta as “try to get the card that completes a Japanese poem!!”).
But I still prefer Hikaru no Go over this. (It’s a similar show, albeit without romance.)
What the show could have done with the romance plot
The show reveals early on that Chihaya’s motivation for playing karuta isn’t purely a love for the cards. Rather, it’s the fact that she now is motivated, that she now has a dream, that leads her to practice karuta so much. Her dream is no longer based on her sister (wanting to see her sister win the beauty pageants), but on herself.
The only problem is that Arata is basically the one who gets Chihaya to realize her true dream. So Chihaya starts to idolize him — she even writes a letter to him saying he’s like a karuta god. This actually could have been an interesting conflict for the show to explore — is Chihaya playing karuta to become the queen, or because Arata said she could? In other words, did Chihaya really find her own dream, or did her dream switch from revolving around her sister to revolving around Arata?
I’m going to wait for the manga author to finish writing the series and then probably just search up spoilers for who she ends up with.